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Enthusiastic young gardeners!
Spring has sprung, and so school gardening sessions have started once again. With great relish St Mary & St Giles students helped load up the compost we’d made and forked it over the school beds. Michele and Jackie, the chefs, have enjoyed using the herbs and winter salads, and are looking forward to harvesting the strawberries that are now in full flower. The children have planted tomatoes in the polytunnel, and onions, peas, radishes and potatoes in the beds outside.
There are also sunflowers beginning to shoot in pots, which will be planted outside the school as part of the Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘Growing for Gold’ celebration of 50 years of Britain in Bloom.
Queen Eleanor School and Russell Street School pupils have been planting sunflowers too, and red poppies to commemorate the First World War. The onions have gone in to the Queen Eleanor School beds and the radishes – and lettuce and cucumber in the greenhouse. So Stony Stratford’s children will have no difficulty in eating their ‘5-A-Day’!
The Brownies who first helped create the Brownie Bed in front of Queen Eleanor School have now become Guides, and they proved very enthusiastic weeders at a session in May, where they had no trouble in distinguishing between the dandelions and thistles that had to come out, and the marigolds and asters that had to stay in.
In June they plan to plant yellow snapdragons and pansies.
Branching out with gardening sessions at Russell Street School
For a number of years Stony Stratford in Bloom volunteers have been enjoying their school gardening sessions with St Mary & St Giles and Queen Eleanor Schools, but this spring, with two new volunteers joining Stony Stratford in Bloom – Zena Flinn and Susan Haynes – there was the chance to extend such gardening support to Russell Street School too, and Sandra Lewis, Head of Russell Street, says she’s delighted that these have been arranged.
Russell Street already had a number of exciting horticultural developments in place: the Science Garden designed by Lesley Keck; a little orchard, whose apples have been used to make juice and cakes; a wild area at the front to encourage bees and insects, and a vegetable patch tended by children in the nursery. The European project with which the school has been involved has also encouraged gardening, and the links between this and healthy eating.
With the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) theme this year being Edible Britain, Zena and Flinn were keen to help the pupils to plant vegetable seeds, and though the miserably extended winter weather hasn’t made things easy, they’ve helped the children to make newspaper pots in which they’ve planted peas, they’ve heeled in some raspberries, and have planted some nasturtiums outside. The RHS has sent a number of free packets of seed – chives, a range of herbs, sunflowers, radishes, carrots and spinach – and Sandra has paid for lettuces, runner beans, courgettes, tomatoes and many others. We’re sure the children will enjoy harvesting these, and will see how much nicer fresh fruit and vegetables grown by their own fair hands actually taste!
The enthusiasm of the children has been a delight to see, and they have already been able to make connections between what they’ve learnt in class and their hands-on gardening experience. Zena and Susan have lots of plans for after Easter when the weather warms up – we hope!
Gardening at St Mary & St Giles and Queen Eleanor Schools this Spring (2013)
The RHS ‘Edible Britain’ theme has been very much to the fore at these two schools too. At St Mary & St Giles Michele, the chef, has had an abundant harvest of winter salads, spring onions and parsley grown in the polytunnel, and since February the pupils have been busy potting up peas, sweet peas, basil and parsley. The onion sets have been planted outside, and the potatoes are chitting, waiting for the soil to be warmer so they can be slipped into the ground.
On 2 June at the Town Council’s Big Lunch at Mortimer Park, Stony Stratford in Bloom plans to have a healthy eating table again, and the children will be planting more salads and radishes for this event.
Earlier in the term Stony Stratford in Bloom volunteers helped the children plant hedge saplings provided free from the Woodland Trust. They thoroughly enjoyed wheeling over the mulch and digging it in. A few weeks before, Kieran Salter, the Head Teacher, had invited an expert hedge layer, Mr Eales, to provide the pupils with a demonstration of this important rural craft.
Queen Eleanor pupils, too, have been ‘branching out’, planting the bare root saplings supplied by the Woodland Trust. They’ve also planted broad beans, and have plans for a host of other delicious vegetables for summer and autumn harvesting.
Sunshine and flowers for the Fullers Slade Fun Day
Once again the annual Fullers Slade Fun Day was a great success – and the day was made glorious by the unexpected appearance of the sun, which shone down obligingly on all the children and parents who were having fun. The organisers, Niki Chapman, Helen Havens and Carly Cooper, were delighted by the turn-out, and smiling faces of the children said it all.
Theresa Wedderburn arranged a wonderful miniature garden activity, as she did last year, and the children enthusiastically took part. She was helped by Kathy Luff, Linda Cambourne Paynter and Geraldine West.
Enjoying a bug count at St Mary & St Giles School
There’s nothing like finding a bug or two or three for generating lots of excitement and interest. In the last gardening session of the year, the children of St Mary & St Giles School had lots of fun finding and recording all the different insects that they’d found.
The Royal Horticultural Society is encouraging everyone to take part in bug counts as there are fears that climate change is diminishing numbers of some species, so the pupils of St Mary & St Giles School are part of a much wider national survey.
And, of course, the children also love picking the soft fruit that’s ripening just now – raspberries and strawberries are great favourites – and healthy too!
Pupils at St Mary & St Giles School look for lovely, luscious lettuces for their lunch
Encouraging healthy eating is something that Stony Stratford in Bloom volunteers hold dear, as does Michele Parsons, the Chef at St Mary & St Giles School, who sponsors the seeds and compost for the school gardening sessions at the school. The pupils were delighted to see how well the lettuces they’d nurtured from seed had grown in the polytunnel, and, having chosen the biggest and finest, carried them in triumph to Michele to prepare for their lunch.
Wild flower seed scattering at St Mary & St Giles School
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has been giving away free wild flower seed to In-Bloom groups and schools, so in the gardening session at St Mary & St Giles School today (20 April 2012) the pupils learnt how to prepare the ground for the wild flower seeds and to scatter them in the two beds immediately in front of the school. We’re hoping that by the summer there will be a blaze of blues and pinks from the cornflowers and corncockle the pupils planted there.
Children on Fullers Slade enjoy planting flowers for Easter
A series of outside activities was organised by Helen Havens for Children on Fullers Slade this Easter, and Stony Stratford in Bloom was invited to take part. Stony Stratford in Bloom volunteers raided their gardens for plants; brought compost and pots; and gave children the opportunity to plant an Easter flower pot for their parents. The children gathered around and potted up with great enthusiasm, and their parents were delighted when they handed over their floral gifts.
Delight as the daffodils start to grow
In the Autumn (10 November 2011) the Rainbows planted daffodils and decorated the pots. Now spring is here, and with it the exciting part – the daffodil shoots and buds appearing! After talking about how plants grow in their Rainbow Session on Thursday, 8 March 2012, the Rainbows will be giving their pots of pretty spring blooms to some elderly Stony Stratford residents living in a sheltered housing complex in the town.
Rainbows plant sunflower seeds enthusiastically on a sunny evening in June
Cubs and Beavers are beavering away at a herb garden
When Chris Rees, mother of a Cub and a Beaver, came to the round table meeting of community representatives that Stony in Bloom organised in April 2011 she went back to the troops enthusiastic about the idea of the Cubs and Beavers learning about gardening. The Cub and Beaver leaders were equally keen, as were other parents, and it was decided to create a garden outside the Scout Hut.
On Monday, 19 June 2011 the Cubs got down to work, and Judy Deveson went along to find out about the exciting plans they had. One of the parents is a landscape gardener, so was able to provide expertise and equipment. Other parents donated tools and plants. A gravel board is being placed in front of the wall of the Scout Hall, and a membrane is being put down to deter weeds. When Judy arrived Cubs were busily shovelling a layer of topsoil on the membrane, where herbs, donated by parents, will be planted here in due course. The aim is a low-maintenance garden, which Cubs and Beavers can maintain through periodic activities in the course of the year.
There are plans to dry the herbs when they have grown, and to combine learning about gardening with learning about cooking, using the herbs for flavourings.
With an eye to the important principal of sustainability, the aim is to grow mostly perennials – though the beds may also be brightened by annuals grown from seed. The Beavers will have the left-hand side, and will grow perennials and annuals too, with a view to interest and colour throughout the year.
Parent volunteers are putting up a trellis for clematis and climbing fuchsia, for dramatic horticultural impact. Pulmonarias and verbena will also be planted against the wall. In the front the Cubs will scatter bark to form an eco-environment, as this part is rather shaded.
So how can Stony in Bloom help? Well, the Cubs and Beavers would like to have a water-butt fitted, and will be asking Stony in Bloom for a donation so they can conserve rainwater and keep their soil moist.
18 November 2010
Children from Russell Street School Enjoy Harvesting their Apples from the Orchard
10 October 2010
Children at Queen Eleanor School Enjoy the Best Part of Gardening – Harvesting What They Have Grown!
Enthusiasm for gardening sessions at St Mary & St Giles School!
Stony in Bloom volunteers are now into their second year of providing gardening sessions for the children of St Mary & St Giles School, and have found it very satisfying to see the pleasure that the children take in planting and watching things grow. What gives Stony in Bloom volunteers particular joy is the delight on the faces of children as they find in the soil a potato that they have helped to grow, and their eagerness to dash off with their trophy to Michele, the school chef, so she can include this freshly grown produce in the school’s menu for that day.
In the course of the last school year a vast range of vegetables were grown: broad beans, courgettes, peppers, tomatoes, salad greens, cucumbers, runner beans, carrots, garlic, spring onions, leeks, pumpkins, strawberries and radishes, all but the strawberries from seeds or sets; and the children learnt how to thin out, pot up and plant out. Mary Sarre planned out what would be the focus of each session, and Pat Thurling took on the organization. Gill Williams, Mary Cater, Anne Lambley, Pat Kyd, Brenda Dunlop and Anne Emel worked with the children too. They explained that different vegetables need to be planted at different times of the year and are harvested at different times. Having the polytunnel at their disposal, the children were able to bring seedlings on, and then plant them out in the raised beds outside. In conversation with the pupils the volunteers were able to highlight connections between what the children were finding out from their gardening experience, and their school curriculum. In addition to vegetables, the children have grown such herbs as parsley, thyme, basil, rosemary, mint and chives, to bring more zest to lunchtime dishes; and they also grew flowers from last year’s seeds – marigolds, sun flowers and nasturtiums, which brought a blaze of golden glory to the school entrance gates, and to the front of the school.
With the start of this academic year gardening sessions began again, and the warm summer with lots of sun and rain had been ideal for a good crop of runner beans. Pupils were able to compare the tomatoes grown outside with those grown in the polytunnel, and to note that the warmth of the poly tunnel had brought those tomatoes on.
Autumn is also a time to think of sowing seeds for the winter salads, which will be grown the in the polytunnel once again this year. It’s a time, too, for clearing out old plants so that beds are free for new crops. And before the new seeds go in the beds need to be enriched. Throughout the year the dead plants have been put in the compost bin to break down, so Sue Bryant explained to the pupils how they could use the compost to put goodness back into the soil for flourishing plants next year.
With Halloween upon us, the pumpkins came into their own, and they were proudly displayed in a school assembly. There was also great excitement when the children found three frogs among the tomato beds in the polytunnel. Gill Williams plans to make a frog house, and also a bug hotel, so that the pupils learn about the creatures that crawl in the soil as well as the seeds that grow there.
26 July 2010
1st Stony Stratford Brownies participate in Stony in Bloom
The 1st Stony Stratford Brownies have been participating in Stony in Bloom by planting seeds and growing the plants on until they were ready to be planted out. Liz Wickersham, their Guider, writes:
1st Stony Stratford Brownies had lots of fun when they participated in ‘Stony in Bloom’ for the second year running. The girls not only learnt about planting and nurturing seeds, but also about pride in their community and community spirit.
21 June 2010
Brownies plant flower beds at Queen Eleanor School
Queen Eleanor Brownies and Guides were busy planting the flower beds at the entrance to Queen Eleanor School on Galley Hill.
Earlier in the Spring, Stony in Bloom supplied the Brownies with cornflower and marigold seeds, which the Brownies planted and took home to water and to watch them grow.
In June, Milton Keynes Council rotavated the ground, and on 21 June 2010 Stony in Bloom volunteers helped the Brownies and Guides to plant the seedlings in the bed. Stony in Bloom also provided additional perennials, which they had bought with funds raised at the York House plant sale.
Where possible plants have been chosen to reflect the Brownies’ colours: blue and gold. Perennial plants include: Phormium, Ceanothus, Winter-flowering jasmine, broom, Blue Geraniums, yellow knifophia (‘red hot poker’) and Asters.
12 May 2010
Bluebell Wood Party
There’s always something special about a deep blue sea of bluebells in a wood – but it’s particularly special when it’s the first time that bluebells have blossomed. So Stony in Bloom decided the occasion deserved a celebration. Linda Kehoe, who runs the Children’s Centre, thought it was a brilliant idea when she was approached; and on Wednesday 12th May the idea became a very enjoyable reality.
Linda, her assistants and the children produced stylish home-made bunting to decorate the wood; and also they created a charming woodland gallery by hanging the colourful children’s paintings from the Stony in Bloom painting competition on a hessian backcloth. Stony in Bloom volunteers provided the party food; and Joan Walker, as Vice-Chair of the Town Council, officially opened the proceedings, thanking the children for helping to plant the bluebells and primroses. Then the children tucked into their food, and everyone gazed in admiration at the beautiful blue blooms and the pictures.
Young children in Stony Stratford can hardly fail to be caught up in the magic of gardening and learning to grow their own vegetables and flowers. The schools have come on board with the blooming boom.
A Science Garden at
Russell Street School
Russell Street School has a science garden which was designed by Lesley Keck. What is a science garden, you may ask? Well, it is a year-round outdoor classroom using different materials for the hard-landscaping, and a variety of plants for smell, texture and taste. There is a ramp for exploring forces. It has a gazebo for hanging different materials, provision for a water feature and raised beds for children to sow and grow their own vegetables as well as open areas for flowers and plants. During their time at Russell Street School, children need to observe, explore and ask questions about living things and materials. They make a study of plants and bugs for life processes. A sundial and rain gauge help them explore the weather and understand the effects of light and colour. They begin to work together to collect evidence to help them answer questions and to link these to simple scientific ideas. They share their ideas and communicate them using scientific language, drawings, charts and tables. The children have sown seeds for plants to be used in the town’s beds and planters.
A New Term in the Russell Street School’s Science Garden
Following on from a successful and enthusiastic start in the summer, children are back for the autumn term and continue to work in their Science Garden. The pictures below show a lovely mixture of Helianthus, wind experiment apparatus and onions drying in the sun. The theme of the Stony in Bloom wall display prepared by the children is of ‘Growing Sunflowers’.
Posted 1 October 2009
Russell Street First School Children enjoy the Natural World
An enthusiastic class of children from Russell St School and their teachers helped Stony in Bloom plant daffodil bulbs in Cofferidge Close on the afternoon of Thursday, 24 September 2009, so that in the Spring the residents of Stony Stratford will be able to enjoy a burst of colour under the trees. The bulbs had been kindly provided by Lesley Arkin.
The children are no strangers to the world of nature, and they have enjoyed harvesting the vegetables from their Science Garden – onions and lettuce. The children chose lettuces so they could have the pleasure of tasty lettuce sandwiches. In the grounds of the school is a very old orchard and pond, and after the apples were picked there was a Harvest Assembly, and the children made apple crumble from the fruit they had gathered. What better way to learn the delights of growing fruit!
All classes use the Science Garden when it fits in with the particular topic they are covering in the curriculum. When studying ‘Humans and other animals’ they look at mini-beasts in the Science Garden and the wild-patch too. During the year they have explored various materials that can be found there – stones, rubber, wood chip on the floor. When they study the weather there is a variety of measuring equipment they can use – a rain gauge, for example, and wind-socks which allow them to see which direction the wind is blowing and a thermometer to measure temperature. The garden also has ramps for looking at how fast things move depending on whether they are being pushed or pulled. Later in the term the children will be exploring the difference that different textures make to how fast things move. It’s an interesting way to study difficult topics such as force and resistance.
A Forest School, Russell Street has a patch of woodland up by the Children’s Centre. All Year 1 classes have a series of blocks of afternoon lessons when they can do Forest School activities, following the Swedish model. An exciting new development has been a European Link, where the theme is outdoor education. A series of visits has been arranged for the teachers to exchange ideas and show each other the children’s work. One of the topics is a tree study and Russell Street School will study an oak tree. In the 2nd Year all grow produce, harvest it and cook with it. In November, teachers will visit Germany, then Sweden in the Spring, and Slovenia in the Summer.
Russell Street School’s keen participation in Stony Stratford’s Britain in Bloom entry is evident in the beautiful Stony in Bloom displays that line the corridors. And it was children from Russell Street who first started planting in the polytunnel at St Mary & St Giles School. Those same children have just started at St Mary & St Giles School, where they can see how well the plants have grown and flourished since then.
Posted 5 October 2009
A Secret Garden at The Children’s Centre
Children at the Children’s Centre, which is adjacent to the site of one of Stony in Bloom’s 2009 major projects are excited at the prospect of being involved in a revolution to rid Stony Stratford of derelict areas and are “hands-on” in helping to create a bluebell wood which will replace the neglected area in front of the Centre. The young people are helping with planting wild flowers and will be very much part of an overall nature experience in that they will learn, not only about plants, but also about creating habitat for wildlife.
An unused area at the side of the Children’s Play Centre has been transformed by the Children and Play team into a ‘Secret Garden.’. This has been developed with very little money by adapting resources from the Centre and recycling a lot of old things. The Secret Garden has been further decorated by the children’s and young people’s art work and has become a quiet social space where they can chat with friends. Everyone feels very proud of their resourcefulness and Judy Angus on behalf of Stony in Bloom was very honoured to be invited to cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the Secret Garden on 12 June 2009.
A polytunnel at St Mary & St Giles School
St Mary & St Giles School has formed a firm partnership with the Stony in Bloom Group for each other’s benefit. A new polytunnel within the grounds provides an invaluable facility to set and grow new plants for beds and planters in the town for residents and visitors to enjoy year-round, in addition to giving winter shelter for summer plants, This facility has created a wonderful opportunity for the children to become part of the action. Head teacher, Meirion Morgan, is very enthusiastic and has started a school gardening club. For the second year running, the children will be involved in seed-planting to create plants for the entrances to the Town. Raised beds within the tunnel will provide opportunities for children to become involved and members of the Stony in Bloom group are volunteering their time to teach the children how to plant and grow their own vegetables and flowers. Just outside the polytunnel there is an allotment bed for use by the town to plant and keep safe the winter plants from the planters so that they can be used again the following winter. Nearby, four raised beds, one for each class, will give the children the chance to develop their gardening skills on an ongoing basis. In addition there will be provision for water butts and composting, so not only will the children have the chance to become fine gardeners, but also they will be in tune with good environmental practices.
Youth Partnership Group
The Youth Partnership Group brings together many of the youth activities which take place within Stony Stratford, including the Brownies, Baptist Youth Group, Junior Youth Group and Schools. These groups combined to help with bulb planting last spring. The children at Queen Eleanor School are involved in the Heritage project in Stony Stratford High Street. The Community Safety Warden is helping with litter campaigns and plans school assembly on looking after the environment.
Stony in Bloom, through the Youth Partnership Group, is organizing three competitions for children – floral container, painting with a flower or woodland theme, and writing a story with a Stony in Bloom theme and the work will be exhibited and prizes given during the Stony Open Gardens weekend.
Awards for Children’s Competitions
Congratulations to everyone who took part. A very high standard and excellent creativity was achieved by all. Pictures and winning poems will be displayed in the Library from Tuesday, 14 July 2009.
Russell Street Painting: William Bland and Lucia Tejera
St Mary & St Giles Painting: Annabel Lyman and Taylor Woodward
Individual Painting: David Dilnot and Jade Williams
Planters: Oliver Newman, Megan Smith and Lauren Dale
Writing: Shabnam Buhary and Eloise Smith
Some of the winners pictured below:
Updated June 2009
Updated again July 2009 after completion of competitions